One and Done

Last week, when the winds of the back-to-school  storm were just dying down — the 2-page list of supplies were purchased, new clothes and shoes and accessories had their way with my wallet, afterschool plans were set and paid for, the pediatrician saw us, and any sneaky lice were evicted from my 6-year-old’s head — my sister asked me, “When are you going to have another one?”

I kindly asked her to zip it.

She’s not the only person concerned with the contents of my uterus. Since my daughter’s first day home, I don’t think that I’ve gone a full week without someone asking when I plan on giving her a friend.

“She has plenty of friends,” I reply. “Friends that I don’t have to pay for.”

But everyone from my grandmother to strangers on the subway tells me that I am doing my daughter a disservice by “forcing her to go through life alone.”

At this point I wish I had a big buzzer like the ones that go off on game shows when a contestant gets an answer wrong, because according to studies (and me—Mother knows best) my only child is going to be just fine.

In a study titled, “Good for Nothing: Number of Siblings and Friendship Nominations Among Adolescents,” researchers found that the very modest social deficit sometimes seen in kindergarten evaporated when only children reached middle school. A large number of children (13,500) in grades seven through twelve at 100 different schools were asked to name ten friends. The only children were just as popular as their peers with siblings. Furthermore, the authors noted, “These results contribute to the view that there is little risk to growing up without siblings-or alternatively, that siblings really may be ‘good for nothing,’” reports Psychology Today.

So there you have it. She won’t be lonely. But what about the self-centered only child stereotype?

Confession: When I was in middle school, people always said, “You’re so bratty. You must be an only child.” And then they would find out that I’m the youngest, and that fit too — it’s always something.

In a study titled Behavioral Characteristics of the Only Child vs First-Born and Children with Siblings, researchers found that the status of being an only child is not associated with a poor outcome in several areas of the development.

“Simply, we tend to succeed at significantly higher rates than people raised with siblings, whether it’s at school or in our professional endeavors. Solitary pursuits like reading train our focus and curiosity and the verbally rich environment of life among adults accelerates our learning,” Lauren Sandler writes in her book One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One.

I suppose I cannot say for certain that the future doesn’t hold another child for our family; we haven’t done anything to make it technically impossible. But it is reassuring to know that, while I’m comfortably balancing my career, marriage, and one child, my daughter is not lacking in a single thing.

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